The NCAA Drops The Hammer

A couple of weeks ago after the Freeh Report hit the streets, I argued here that the administration at Penn State should take down the Joe Paterno statue and that the NCAA ought not to impose sanctions on Penn State. Well, the administration did take down the statue so I am now batting .500 with regard to those recommendations. Today the NCAA hit Penn State with just about every penalty at the NCAA’s disposal save for the “Death Penalty”.

I think the NCAA set itself a precedent here that it may not like. The NCAA has imposed a sanction on a member school without doing an investigation of its own and the basis for the sanction is based on illegal activities at the school not activities that might devolve to the school some kind of unfair athletic competitive advantage. Lawyers like to argue about the famous “slippery slope”; the NCAA just set itself upon one.

They fined Penn State $60M – – approximately the revenue generated by a season of Penn State football. Sounds fair at first; however much of that money would have gone to funding the other non-revenue sports at Penn State such as fencing and cross country. The student athletes on those teams will be “collateral damage victims” of something that happened completely outside of their control. I have not read every word of the Freeh Report – – although I have read more than half of it online – – and I have seen nothing that would lead me to believe that anyone associated with the fencing team or the cross-country team was involved in anything untoward regarding the “Sandusky Affair”. Yet those athletes will be punished too.

The football program will lose 10 scholarships per year for 4 years. One can argue that it was the football program that made all of this happen and so there is some degree of ‘justice” here. The NCAA imposition of sanctions is always “after the fact” so it is useless to argue that it is the current coaching staff and the current players/recruits who will be punished for the sins of their predecessors. That is just the way the NCAA rolls…

Penn State will not be allowed to participate in any bowl games for four years. Actually, I sort of like this sanction because it really gets to the heart of the matter here. For the next four years, the Penn State athletic department and the football program can put their expectations and their actions into a mode that is more in line with what intercollegiate athletics ought to be. Yes, I know this too is an ex post facto punishment on people who had nothing to do with the “Sandusky Affair”. That is just the way the NCAA rolls…

Having Penn State football forfeit all of its wins between 1998 and 2011 is an interesting decision. On one hand, it is a silly decision because all of the Penn State teams in those years derived no advantage or benefit from the cover-up actions that these sanctions are meant to address. On the other hand, it is a brilliant decision because it removes Joe Paterno’s name from any future discussion about “winningest coach” and that removal is a good thing. What I would hope to be the case is that 20 years from now, folks will remember Joe Paterno as:

    An excellent football coach and educator


    A man whose horrible judgment in a crisis situation allowed a sexual predator to continue his predation on young boys for almost a decade.

That is who Joe Paterno was; that is how he should be remembered but if the debate has to do with “winningest coach” then all logic gets sidetracked and everything becomes emotionally driven again. I have no idea if the NCAA imposed this sanction with that kind of thing in mind, but if they did then kudos to them.

Hopefully, this action by the NCAA will allow the Penn State/Sandusky Affair story to recede from banner headline status. If that is the case, then we can look back at the last 9 months or so and objectively look at all of the words that have been written and spoken about the way this sordid tale demonstrates how culture of college football as the most important thing on campus leads to terrible ends. Certainly, columns of that ilk laid end to end would likely be long enough to stretch a path to and from every school in the Big Ten. Meanwhile, I have to think that sports fans in “SEC Territory” are reading such columns with a quizzical expression as if to say:

    How could football be anything but the most important thing on the campus of a large state university?

NFL training camps are open and Terrell Owens is not in any of them. I wonder if his next “career move” will be into sports radio where if a host has the ability to say startling and/or outrageous things, then the host achieves celebrity status and is a success. If that is not the path, then maybe he can become a personal fitness trainer. I have not observed any other characteristics that would lead to a career path for him.

I make those observations about Owens because he has already been down the “reality TV road” with the T.O. and Ocho Show and it was anything but a “hot property”. He is not likely to get another gig in that arena – – unlike another sports figure who can no longer play his game and who needs income. Pete Rose (age 71) and his fiancée (age 30-ish) will star in an upcoming “family reality series” on TLC network. I had to go and look this up, but TLC programming already includes such things as

    What Not To Wear
    Craft Wars
    Cake Boss
    Extreme Couponing

With that lineup, why not add a Pete Rose centered “family reality” show? In fact, why not add a program about people who hoard stuff to the point that they need an intervention just to start to throw out some of the 25-year-old newspapers they have been saving. Oh, sorry.. TLC already has that program on; it is called Hoarding, Buried Alive. You know, the T.O. and Ocho Show might not have been nearly as bad as I thought…

Here is what Pete Rose told Entertainment Weekly:

”It’s not going to be classless – like it seems like a lot of reality shows aren’t really reality, but our reality show is going to be funny, entertaining, and real.”

Here is my reaction to that statement:

    Would that…

Finally, here is some insight from Greg Cote in the Miami Herald:

“A South Korean won the U.S. Women’s Open in golf. Or, did that go without saying? A South Korean winning in the LPGA is every bit as stunning as a Kenyan winning a marathon.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………

Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.


  • Ed  On July 23, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    5-2 Pete’s cancelled within a year

    • The Sports Curmudgeon  On July 23, 2012 at 8:59 pm


      Wow You give the show that long… I think the producers will have plumbed the depths of the “reality” portion of this show in the first 20 minutes of the first installation.

  • Brian  On July 24, 2012 at 8:37 am

    I find it interesting that the NCAA “death penalty” was discussed for the PSU football program. Well, the gentleman who’s been vilified by this whole episode already received the death penalty, thanks to The Grim Reaper.

    The punishment handed down by the dillweeds of the NCAA is unprecedented and too severe, considering that most of the Freeh revelations are mostly hearsay.

    The administrators are suffering, Joe Paterno’s career and reputation have suffered, and Joe has suffered the supreme punishment. Why inflict more punishment on the athletes??

    This whole NCAA things stinks like 10,000 soiled diapers. This may have killed my appreciation of college football forever. I am not happy…..

    • The Sports Curmudgeon  On July 25, 2012 at 12:05 am


      As I wrote about 2 weeks ago, the Freeh Report may be 100% accurate but it does suffer from the fact that it had no subpoena power – – minimizing its ability to find things not contained in what was given to them – – and it did not put anyone under oath – – meaning there was no threat of perjury – – and no one who spoke to the investigators had to fear any kind of strong cross-examination.

      I fear this action by the NCAA is going to come back and bite them in the butt one of these days.

  • rugger9  On July 24, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    Well, there’s the Notre Dame suicide which involved a girl who was raped by football players and the university pooh-bahs covered it up and shut her down. While we’re in South Bend we also have the tower incident where a student was told to stay up there and was killed when it fell over. Lest one thinks I’m picking on ND, there are examples around the country, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Montana, all over, and the NCAA did nothing to any of them even though all involved coverups at least at the coaching staff level.

    Add to that the fact there was no due process here, something the kindly Curmudgeon pointed out first in the media, just a unitary executive decision by a guy who fell all over himself not two years ago over JoePa. I would suspect that Sandusky’s activities were not unknown in the biz, since a top DC from a major university is normally a prime candidate for any head coaching job that opens up. There’s been a lot of turnover since JS left PSU coaching, and not one of them would try to take him.

    When Emmert did this, he muzzled PSU for now, but… I’m sure some of the season ticket holders, local businesses and/or boosters may decide to litigate this hearsay decision outside the scope of the NCAA’s mission where no process existed for a fair hearing or to challenge the report. And how long before the clamor hits someone else?

    • The Sports Curmudgeon  On July 25, 2012 at 12:08 am


      I spoke to two attorneys in the last couple of days regarding potential legal actions brought against the NCAA over this matter. Neither of them thinks highly of the chances for such an action. As one of them put it, “That is definitely not a case I would take on contingency fee…”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>